Scattered by the thousands across Yucatán, freshwater cenotes are must-see sites in Mexico. They’re the result of collapsed earth that exposes underground rivers which flow throughout the region, all connected by a labyrinth of underground tunnels.
Cenotes were sacred to the Mayans who would use these freshwater rivers as primary water sources, as well as perform rituals and sacrifices to the Gods. There are over 6,000 of these sacred sites in Yucatan alone.
After entering the cave entrance of the Cenote San Lorenzo Oxman, a winding staircase takes visitors down to the rocky ledge, where a swinging rope allows swimmers to indulge in the green-blue waters below. The collapsed limestone cave drips with cool water, sunlight, and long, hair-like roots of the ancient trees above skim the water’s edge. It is said that tree spirits guard each cenote entrance and that the ancient Mayans knew a cenote by sight of these guardian trees.
This particular cenote is notable for the nearby Hacienda San Lorenzo, which dates back to the 18th-century. After entering the archway replete with flowers and greenery, visitors move through the pink-orange high arches of the hacienda to purchase tickets for 30 pesos per person (less than $2). The old world, tranquil glamour of the house alone is worth seeing.
Know Before You Go
If you’re staying in Valladolid, the best way to get there is by bicycle down the long, dirt and gravel road. It’s roughly a 20-25 minute ride from the city center or you can always take a cab.